Assault charge against Buckner alderman becomes election issue

Charges of misdemeanor domestic assault and anger over a conviction for theft of a 1930s telegraph machine have caused some residents in Buckner to call for longtime alderman Tim Runyon to withdraw his candidacy for mayor.

Bobby Dean, a home remodeler in the area, said he and at least 20 other businesspeople want Runyon to withdraw in the April 3 race against Dan Hickson.

“It’s just embarrassing what this does to the city,” Dean said.

However, the theft conviction is being appealed and the domestic assault accusations have not been proved.

“Tim has been an alderman for the past 12 years, has an impeccable record and has never been in trouble with the law before,” said his lawyer, Scott Ison.

Runyon will neither plead guilty nor pull out of the race, Ison said.

Runyon, 50, was charged most recently with three counts of assault against his daughter, 17, in October and November 2011 and January of this year. Those charges should reach municipal court in May.

The police report alleges physical and verbal abuse and threats. The alleged victim has moved out of the house, the report said.

Runyon was charged in August with misdemeanor theft of a telegraph, telegraph key, sounder and battery charger worth about $175. According to police reports, the dispute originated from an agreement between the city and Lewis and Clark Trail Days LLC about use of the town’s old railroad depot. Lewis and Clark maintained the depot in exchange for storage, records state. Runyon’s wife, Theresa, who is running for the council, is a board member of Lewis and Clark.

The city later decided to give control of the depot to the parks department and asked Lewis and Clark to remove its property. The police report alleges that Runyon took his own property, plus the telegraph equipment, which belongs to the city. Runyon told another council member that he had the machines at his house for “safekeeping,” the report says, and he voluntarily returned the items.

Runyon was later convicted in municipal court. Ison said the appeal will be tried Monday in Jackson County Circuit Court.

Ison said that all the accusations have been raised in the past few months before the election and that Runyon will fight all allegations in court.

But Dean said Runyon must be stopped before he can damage the city further.

“There’s got to be some kind of code of conduct, and he’s breached it by a mile,” Dean said.

Hickson, the incumbent mayor, had no comment on the controversy.

Buckner is northeast of Independence in Jackson County.